Archive for January 2008

January 27, 2008

As I was finishing Children of Jihad today, this quote just really resonated with me, I don’t know why. Maybe because my faith in this idea in general is what makes me do what I do, or maybe because I think anyone wants the idea to be true. Otherwise, what hope we would ever have that the world would get better?

“The post-9/11 years have no been easy for Middle Eastern youth. To most of the rest of the world, the Middle East seems caught in a perpetual cycle of violence, sectarian conflict, and fanaticism. On TV, we watch both Shi’a and Sunni insurgencies mounting in Iraq; mujahideen fighters trying to revive Taliban-style rule in Afghanistan; and Hezbollah and the IDF fihting a war in Lebanon. In the newspapers, we read about the publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad in an offensive light, sparking massive riots in Europe; the president of Iran calling for the destruction of Israel; and terrorists in Britain conspiring to blow up ten commercial airplanes with liquid explosives. The images and rhetoric we see on the news lead us to believe that the world is on an inevitable path to catastrophe, even apocalypse.

And that’s wrong.

My journeys have taken me from wild underground parties in the Islamic Republic of Iran to the military headquarters of some of the most dangerous Palestinian camps in all of Lebanon to the emotionally shattered villages of Syria and finally to the worn-torn streets of Iraq. As an American Jew traveling in the Middle East during this age of terror, I should have been unwelcome, I should have felt unsafe, and it should have been impossible for me to engage on any level with people who I’d been told hated my country and my religion. But I found that the easy, monolithic characterization of “us versus them” fails to take into account the humanity and the individuality of all of the people who make up “us” and “them.” And the “them” I met – the young men and women of the Middle East – should make all of us very hopeful for the future.”