Monday, May 23, 2011

Eye Opening

You are reading this, which means you are not reading about the "situation" in the Middle East.  You could be, of course, but let's face it: you apparently would rather follow my blog, which is really truly very flattering, and I'm blushing, but all things considered I do have to question your choice.  I mean, really.

Let me help you kill two birds with one metaphorical stone, as I am writing about the situation.  Ok, I was writing about the situation, but as you are reading this I clearly no longer am.  But you get my drift.

Speaking of birds, last Friday I ate my first pigeon.  Yes, pigeon

Pigeons are served in pairs (Mr. and Mrs, I presume) at Egyptian restaurants.

It tasted pretty much like pigeon.  It was stuffed with rice, which made me think about the life cycle of pigeons, which I shouldn't have, because...well, if you are eating while reading this, which you probably are, admit it, and I'm guessing it's something not very healthy, don't want to disrupt your digestive system anymore than it already is. Or will be, if you think of what I thought of while chewing the rice.

Before I came to Doha, I rarely read about the Middle East either, at least not more than you would think a person who reads a lot, and who studies politics professionally -- and I am a pro -- would read.  Sure, I checked out the headlines to see how much -- or how little -- progress was being made in our invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan.  The Arab Spring protests and revolutions made for some great, inspiring, images and I was especially interested in the brutal crackdown in Bahrain, as I had visited there last summer.

I definitely didn't read about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  Following that, for me, was like following All My Children:  the drama lasted forever, but nothing really happened, nothing really changed, it was pretty clearly not "relevant" to me, and if I did want to catch up I could do so in about 15 minutes.  The chances of a breakthrough were about as good as the chance of Susan Lucci winning an Emmy.  Yeah, right, like that could happen.

Now, my eyes have been opened.

I thank my students.  One of them, a Palestinian, suggested that we watch Occupation 101 in class.

Fascinating, and heartbreaking.  I hate to comment on the conflict between Israel and Palestine, because others know so much more, and often have such strong opinions, but this I do know:

The status of the Palestinians as an occupied and/or dispossessed people is a tragedy and a shameful blot on the community of nations -- with US policy contributing to the shame.

President Obama gave a speech on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict this week and, as expected, he has been blasted as too timid, too bold, too unrealistic, too little, too late, and too 'fill in your favorite negative word here'.  Or, as the noted international statesman Gene Simmons, of KISS fame, concluded: Obama has "no fucking idea what he is talking about."  (Gene: KISS off! Badabing).

Last night I, along with about 600 other souls, went to the Doha Hyatt to attend a talk on the "Arab Spring" by Professor Rashid Khalidi, Professor of Modern Arab Studies at Columbia University.  This raised a big question for me:  Should I just skip the talk and head to the pool?

That was a rhetorical question.

Wasn't it?

The lounge was pretty tempting, though, and what better place to consider the plight of the dispossessed?

I'll sleep on that -- no, neither the lounge nor the dispossessed -- with "that" referring to what I was talking about.  Whatever that was.  Tomorrow, I'll open my eyes again and report back.  Peace.

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